Okay, two were genuine prodigies; the third was either a genuine prodigy or was/is trying very, very hard to sell herself as being one. I’m talking about Olga Smirnova, Xenia Zhiganshina and Joy Womack.
Two of the three started out in the Vaganova School (Zhiganshina actually started out earlier in one of those very questionable “little girls in big roles” schools where they put the kids on pointe at age 5). Two of the three were in the rare position of having major ballet companies fight over them (Smirnova and Zhiganshina). One negotiated her way to 2nd soloist at the Bolshoi, straight out of school (Smirnova). One was already dancing with the Mariinsky well before she graduated from Vaganova (Zhiganshina, who is now in the corps of the Bolshoi).
The third one, Joy Womack, is a tangle of controversy.
Mind you, 90% of the controversy could be because Joy is American. Russians are notoriously willing to stretch the truth about outsiders like that, and Joy has found herself being accused of everything from doctoring videos to make it seem as if she was in the Russian class at the Bolshoi’s academy, to having her daddy pay her way into the Bolshoi (makes sense only to a point if you consider Joy’s accusation that the Bolshoi wouldn’t give her soloist roles because she wouldn’t pay for them; also her claim that a generous stranger paid for her foot surgery while at school). She’s also faced some very ugly accusations of sleeping her way into the Bolshoi — very strange because she got married to get into the Bolshoi and is always spouting the Jesus stuff.
And then when she left the Bolshoi came the weird accusation that she couldn’t do steps properly, nor memorize anything.
My own observations of this dancer have been that she is very competent, except for her pirouettes, and so far seems to be an excellent prospect for a major company’s corps or coryphee level. Yet she has pushed her way to first soloist with a tiny company just blocks away from the Bolshoi.
As tangled as her story is, I guess the best thing is to cut it in half and believe half of that. The core of the whole thing seems to be that she is the only non-Russian in this story; otherwise, we’d have the truth about her with no problem.
Of course, this being Russia…maybe not.